Friday, January 31, 2014

January in Instagram Photos

January was a family-oriented month for me.  My sister and her boyfriend spent a week with me here, then my boyfriend's mom and best friend came for another week, and then there was the (very exciting!) birth of my second niece.

Because I was so concentrated on family this month, I focused less on crafting.  But I've noticed that my craftiness is just like the ebb and flow of the ocean's tides.  I didn't craft as much in January, so I'm feeling an influx of creativity coming on for February.  Does this happen to you too?

Anyway, I've got another t-shirt redesign in the works as well as some knitting projects.  I also ordered some new yarn from Purl Soho that should be arriving soon, and we're planning a trip to the fabric store tomorrow.  I'm excited to start another sewing project too!

Although I spent most of this month doing beachy activities with my family, I did manage to knit a few things.  It's funny, though, because even my knitting was family-oriented.

I made hats for my sister and her boyfriend followed by the tiniest little baby hat for my newborn baby niece.  I can't wait to go home in May and meet her.

I hope you've had a lovely January too.

Stay tuned for a lot of action on the blog next month!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Showgirl Beauty Tip: Tasteful Glitter

I don't know about you, but I love glitter.

Luckily, in my line of work, it's perfectly acceptable to add lots of glitter to your makeup. There are ladies with glittery eyes, glittery hair, and even glittery lips walking around backstage at any given show at any given time.  After all, in the words of Karen Kresge, the great show skater turned producer, "you can never have too much glitter."

But what about glitter for everyday life?

I think it's pretty hard to pull off glitter without looking like a middle schooler, but it can certainly be done.  The key is to pick one single feature to highlight with the glitter and to only apply a teeny, tiny bit.

The best place to apply this teeny, tiny bit is on your upper eyelid, just below your eyebrow, where you normally apply a light eyeshadow as a highlighter.  A tiny dab of glitter right there provides a lovely shimmer in a spot that will brighten up your whole eye without being overwhelming.

Just be sure that your teeny, tiny bit is no bigger than a little dab with your pinky finger.  If you apply too much, the glitter will fall down onto your cheek bones, which is cute in ice shows, but a little over-the-top for everyday life.

Happy sparkling!

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Knitted Bandana Cowl

I made myself a Bandana Cowl, using a lovely knitting pattern from The Purl Bee.

First of all, I love The Purl Bee.  It's a fantastic blog run by the ladies of Purl Soho, which is a knitting store that will be first on my list of sights to see if I'm ever back in New York City.

Second of all, I love my new cowl.

The pattern calls for bulky yarn, but I chose to make mine with worsted weight yarn because I wanted it to be a light and airy knit that I could wear while I'm here in the Caribbean.  (On a side note, it was actually kind of chilly today as we sailed back toward Florida.  Not Colorado chilly, obviously, but chilly nonetheless.)

If you take a close look at my pictures, you can see little specks of light shining between the stitches, which is exactly what I was going for with the lighter weight yarn.

My yarn choice also made my cowl extra drapey in the front, so it's even better for the Caribbean because it doesn't cover my neck very much.

In case you haven't caught on by now, I made this cowl 100% for aesthetics and 0% for neck warming.

The actual knitting process was quite quick, and the short rows kept me entertained.  In fact, I enjoyed the short rows so much that I'd like to seek out another pattern involving short rows to knit for one of my next few projects.  Do you know of any good ones?

Anyway, I hope you're staying warm and toasty wherever you are in the world.

If you're not in a tropical climate like I am, perhaps The Purl Bee's Bandana Cowl knit with the proper bulky-weight yarn would be just what the doctor ordered.

Happy knitting!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Link to Love: The Best-Ever Knitting Advice

For the past few weeks, the blogging world has been filled to the brim with posts about New Year's resolutions and goals for 2014.  Personally, I really like reading all those posts.  They tend to humanize the blog authors of the world, and I like thinking about how even the writers behind some of the biggest, coolest blogs on the internet are regular people just like me who have goals that are similar to my own.

This year, my absolute favorite post in the New Year's genre is "At the top of the year" by Glenna from Knitting to Stay Sane.  Rather than listing specific resolutions for the coming year, she made an insightful list of knitting advice that will be just as relevant in June as it is in January.

Her words that resonated with me the most are "Recognize why you knit, and for whom. Allow yourself to stop knitting on projects that don't match those reasons."

Those words really got me thinking about my reasons for knitting, which I've never spent much time exploring before.  Then today happened, and the answer became quite clear.

I often talk about how much I love skating in shows, but show life (like every kind of life) isn't always perfect.  Being a principal pair skater is fun, but it also comes with a lot of pressure.  In our solo in our current show, my partner and I do 11 difficult tricks in a very short period of time, and some of those tricks are high-risk release elements (a.k.a. things that might make me fall).  In our second show today, I fell on our throw jump.  The ice was quite choppy because it was almost the end of the show, so I stuck to the ice instead of sliding across it, which is as painful as it is embarrassing.  The audience emitted a collective gasping noise.  I was not pleased with myself.

When the show ended I went back to my cabin, applied several bandaids to my arm, then sat down with my knitting.  As I knitted, I stopped beating myself up about my poor performance in the show; I pretty much stopped thinking about anything, and it felt really good.  Suddenly I realized this is why I knit!

I knit to relieve stress.  I knit because it's something constructive to think about.  I knit because I genuinely enjoy pondering stitch counts and gauges and knitting-related math.  I knit because it gives me a sense of accomplishment.  I knit because I like knowing I'm making something completely unique.  I knit because I like giving those unique objects to the people I love.  I knit because it makes me happy, and I like sharing my happiness.

Why do you knit?

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Triplet Shawl: An Arm Knitting Pattern

As promised in last Sunday's Link to Love post, I've successfully completed an arm knitting project.

Now that I've done it, I would say that arm knitting's relationship to traditional knitting is similar to finger painting's relationship to fine art.  Both are capable of producing lovely results, one is just a lot more precise than the other.

Arm knitting and traditional knitting utilize the same general principles -- casting on, binding off, etcetera -- but arm knitting is inherently freeform; it simply can't be as exact as traditional knitting.  The size of a knitter's arms varies greatly from person to person, and even on a single knitter's arm the forearm is usually quite a bit wider than the wrist, so it's nearly impossible to make sure all the stitches are identically sized.  However, each stitch is so large that the final result is incredibly malleable and all the stitches shift and even each other out once the project is complete.  Also, the process of arm knitting feels much more like moving loops from side to side than winding yarn in specific ways to create perfect stitches as you do in traditional knitting; it still feels like you're working with yarn, just in a very different way.  Having said that, I have become a fan of this inexact science, and I'm excited to share my arm knitted Triplet Shawl with you.

I learned the basics from a Michael's youtube video, Arm Knitting for Beginners, which was straightforward and quite helpful.  It covers how to cast on, make the basic arm knitting stitch, and how to bind off.  If you've never arm knitted before, I highly recommend watching that video before you move on to attempting the pattern below.

All the other arm knitting patterns that I've seen on the internet are for rectangles so there's only one type of stitch necessary with no increases or decreases.  I didn't want to make a rectangle, though, I wanted to make a triangle.  To do so, I decided to go with the easiest decrease in traditional knitting: knit two together.  To knit two together arm knitting-style, I simply slipped two loops off of my arm at once and kept on truckin' as if I had only slipped off one loop, thus decreasing the number of stitches in the next row by one.  Here's what that looks like:

Keeping all that in mind, here's the pattern for the Triplet Shawl!

5 skeins of worsted weight yarn in complimentary colors
Your arms

Cast on 28 stitches, using all 5 strands of yarn together as if they were 1 strand.
Row 1: knit
Row 2: knit 2 together, knit until there are two stitches left, knit 2 together
Repeat row 2 for the next 11 rows until there are only 4 stitches remaining.
Row 13: knit 2 together, knit 2 together
Bind off the remaining 2 stitches

Weave in the ends and try on your new shawl!

You can throw it over your shoulders to wear it as a shawl, wrap it around your waist to use it as a swimsuit cover-up, or fold it in half and tie it at the back of your neck to create a bandana scarf.

And did I mention that it took me less than 30 minutes to make this?  Arm knitting is amazing if you're in the mood for some instant gratification.

Happy (arm) knitting!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Showgirl Beauty Tip: Strawberry Hairspray

Hairspray isn't my favorite thing.

The main reason is that it makes my hair crunchy, which is unpleasant to touch.  Also, if I accidentally spray some on my forehead, it makes my skin feel sticky and tight, and don't get me started on accidentally spraying it in my ear.  Then there's the nearby beverage issue.  If there's a water bottle or coffee cup next to me when I spray my hair, I end up wondering if I'm accidentally drinking tiny hairspray particles, which is gross.  Oh, and I always hold my breath while I'm spraying it because who wants that stuff in their lungs?

So anyway, there's a lot to dislike about hairspray in general, but it keeps my hair in place for shows so I use it faithfully.

I've tried most of the brands over the years and I've never felt a strong attachment to any particular hairspray until recently, when I discovered the yummiest smelling hairspray in the world.  It's Bed Head by TIGI's Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray and it smells like strawberries.

So if you want your hair to smell awesome (in addition to looking good), try it out.  I love it.

Happy spraying!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Link to Love: Arm Knitting

Arm knitting is exactly what it sounds like: knitting with your arms instead of needles, and it's been all over the news lately.  The two largest newspapers to cover the topic were The Wall Street Journal and The Times.  You can click here and here to read those articles.

I think it's really cool that knitting is making the news in general, and I also think it's cool that the whole arm knitting idea is being referred to as a "craze" and a "trend."  The fact that knitting is capable of having trends points to its continuing upswing in popularity among the younger crowds, and I'm all for it.

Arm knitting projects are also showing up on Ravelry these days, which means that this trend is being embraced by the online knitting community, and not just novice knitters who like to browse Pinterest.  (Not that being a newbie is a bad thing; I'm happy that there are more and more new knitters these days and I hope they stick around and become a solid part of the community.)

Of the arm knitting projects on Ravelry, I think that Simply Maggie's Arm Knit Blanket looks the coziest, don't you?

Image via Simply Maggie on Ravelry

Anyway, all this arm knitting buzz has piqued my interest, so I've come up with my own arm knitting project idea and I'm going to start working on it this afternoon.  We'll see how it goes...

Happy knitting (with or without your arms)!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Knitting Update

Most of December was dedicated to knitting hats for my family for Christmas, and now that the holidays have come and gone, I can finally write about those hats on the blog!  It's felt weird to be spending so much time working on a project that I couldn't talk about here.

I initially intended to follow a pattern for those hats so they would be perfect on the first try, making me a super-efficient Christmas knitting machine.  That plan ended up backfiring, though, because I purchased a pattern online, followed it exactly, and ended up with something I didn't like at all.  It was way too baggy and simply not my style.  That's when I switched gears from pattern-following to pattern-making, and I'm really glad that I did because I ended up with hats that I was proud of and that I was excited to give to my family.

My sister and her boyfriend are visiting me this week, so I just gave them their hats.  Here they are sporting them with me and my cast mates:

I'm also psyched to share the pattern for these hats here on the blog for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's my favorite pattern that I've written to date.  Seriously.  Secondly, it's going to be my first pattern that will be available as an instant PDF download for purchase.

Don't worry, I'll still be posting free knitting patterns here on the blog as well.  I have been working hard on my pattern-writing skills, though, and I'm ready to dabble in the big leagues. I'll be posting it in about 2 weeks.  Yay!

Until then, happy knitting!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Showgirl Beauty Tip: Lipstick Blotting

We wear tons of pretty costumes in ice shows, and it's our responsibility to make sure we treat them with respect and don't mess them up.  Want to know the easiest way to mess them up? Getting lipstick all over them.  That's why I always blot my lipstick.

It's so ingrained in my head that I thought everyone did it, but at my current show one of our new girls kept getting her lipstick all over the place.  I asked her if she was remembering to blot, and she didn't know what that was!  So that's why today's Showgirl Beauty Tip is about blotting, blotting, blotting.

To blot your lips, all you have to do is fold a tissue in half, place it between your lips, then gently close your mouth onto the tissue.  Don't rub your lips around, just press them against the tissue and then release it, leaving a perfect lip mark on the tissue.

All the extra lipstick that came off on the tissue is the same lipstick that would have ended up on your clothes, on your teeth, or on your coffee cup.  Now you'll be keeping your lipstick to yourself!

Happy blotting,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Knitting Pattern: New Year's Eve Hair Pin

You know how everything is so sparkly and bright and wonderful on New Year's Eve?  Well that got me thinking about adding glitter to a knitting project, which got me thinking about this hair pin idea...

I wanted to mix the warm cozy feeling of winter knits with the bright and happy feeling of New Year's Eve, so I used crisp white yarn, a bobby pin, and a healthy dash of glitter to make it happen.

More specifically, to make this project you will need:
1.  US Size 5 knitting needles
2.  A very small amount of white worsted weight yarn
3.  A bobby pin
4.  Glitter
5.  Hairspray (optional)

Here's how to knit this little guy:
Cast on 3 stitches
Row 1: knit 2, slip 1
Repeat Row 1 until your knitting is slightly longer than your bobby pin (as shown in the picture above).
Bind off knitwise

The reason why I slipped the last stitch in every row is to make the edges of the knitting neater than they would have been had I knitted all those last stitches.  If you've never done this before, check out the set of pictures above, which depict how to properly start knitting the next row after you've slipped the final stitch on the row before it.

To do so, pull the yarn over to the right side of your work, then knit the first stitch as if the yarn had been attached to that final stitch all along.  Whatever you do, don't do a yarn over; then you'd be accidentally adding an extra stitch every time you started a new row.

Once you've finished knitting, gently insert the bobby pin into your work, bringing it through each bump in the middle row of bumps, as pictured below.

For the finishing touches, sprinkle a copious amount of white glitter onto the knitting and give it a quick squirt of hairspray to help the glitter stay put in the fibers of the yarn.

Happy 2014!
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